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Mauka, one of the least known food crops in the world, is a traditional staple of the Maukallajta Indians. The starch-filled tubers are produced in sites where most potatoes and other root crops cannot survive. (S.D. Franco P.)


Both the swollen stems and the roots are high in carbohydrates (87 percent on a dry-weight basis) with 7 percent protein (an appreciable amount for a root crop) and little fiber. Based on an evaluation of three separate ecotypes, mauka is richer than the other Andean tubers in calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

The leaves contain about 17 percent protein. The level of digestibility is said to be higher than that of the other forages that can be grown in the upland Andes.


Mauka is generally cultivated as an annual, although it has the enlarged stems and roots of a perennial. It is propagated by portions of stem or root, as well as by offsets (which develop during the second growing season). Seed is also sometimes used, and could be useful in breeding programs, in freeing the plant from any viruses that may be present, and in facilitating the introduction of mauka to new areas. The seed remains viable for several years.

As the plant matures, the below-ground portion of the stem and the upper roots thicken into crowded clusters at and just beneath the soil surface. At harvest, the clumps are pulled up and the edible portions

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